The salt plains, lagoons and marshes of France’s only river delta, the Camargue, offer bird-watching opportunities on a scale hard to rival in Europe.
A major stopping place in north-south migrations, spring mating season and late autumn are the best times to visit.
Camargue’s climate also makes it an ideal over-wintering place for thousands of water birds. Most visitors will expect to see the region’s famous pink flamingos - the only place outside Africa to find hundreds in the wild - but the Camargue is also a haven for marsh harriers, martins, swallows and egrets. Plovers and sandpipers gather south of Salin-de-Giraud near the salt pans, and freshwater waders like the marsh sandpipers, marsh terns and herons are found in the north. You could be lucky enough to see a spotted eagle.
Make for Pont de Grau Ornithological Park on the D570 near Ste-Maries-de-la-Mer, open every day 9am to sunset, or the viewing platforms by the Marais des Grenouillet. La Capeliere the headquarters of the National Nature Reserve of the Camargue north of the Vaccares Lagoon is one of the best bird-watching sites in the Camargue - tel: (00 33) 4 90 97 00 97. Cycling is a good way to explore as motoring is restricted in many areas.
Mont Sainte-Victoire is an iconic symbol of Aix-en-Provence due to its numerous – over 50 – depictions by Cezanne. It is a very popular walking location, one of the most popular routes being the GR9, the Chemin des Veuvenargues, which can take you to the summit in approximately 2 hours – depending, of course, on how fast you walk!
Enjoy the panoramic views from the Cross of Provence. There is good car parking or, alternatively, catch a bus from Aix. The many walks available range from easy to strenuous and you need to be well prepared if walking in hot weather.
Best described as a tilted pyramid, Mont Sainte-Victoire has striking white limestone rock faces. Like Cezanne, you can enjoy the wonderful light and ever-changing colours of this mountain, especially at sunset.
If you prefer to drive, then follow the 60km Route Cezanne to the south of Mont Sainte Victoire and take in the beautiful scenery from the comfort of your car.
Originally only accessible by boat across the marshes, this fortified Benedictine monastery built between the tenth and thirteenth centuries is famous for its medieval graves carved from the rock. A burial site since the fourth century, the island was an important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages and a large Maurist Monastery was built here in the eighteenth century.
Visit the huge unfinished church with twelfth century crypt and cloisters and fourteenth century Pons de l’Orne Tower, the abbey and rock cemetery.